Embedded anti-alcohol messages on commercial television: What teenagers perceive

D. L.G. Borzekowski

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: Educators and producers should take advantage of television's potential for reaching audiences with health-related messages. This paper investigates adolescents' perceptions of an anti-alcohol message embedded in commercial television programming. Methods: Over 900 8th and 9th graders from New York suburbs completed surveys measuring interest, knowledge, and credibility of either an episode of The Cosby Show or Family Matters. Both episodes had an antialcohol message embedded within their plots. Results: Overall, students gave high rates of interest and credibility and received high scores for knowledge for both episodes. Girls and African-American students had higher scores, on average, for interest and credibility. White students had the highest knowledge scores. Students with different television viewing experiences did not differ in their perceptions of the episodes; however, students who had previously seen the episodes gave higher levels of interest and credibility. Conclusion: These data indicate that youngsters are receptive to antialcohol messages within commercial television episodes. The results also suggest that similarities and differences between a viewer and a televised character relate to differences in perception. However, much more research should be done in order to generalize these findings to other audiences, episodes, programs, and health-related messages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-352
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1996


  • Adolescents
  • Alcohol
  • Credibility
  • Health messages
  • Interest
  • Knowledge
  • Television

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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